2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #3

A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Jan 12, 2020 through Sat, Jan 18, 2020

Editor's Pick

The Past and the Future of the Earth’s Oldest Trees

Bristlecone pines have survived various catastrophes over the millennia, and they may survive humanity.

Bristlecone Pines - Shutterstock

Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest - a protected area high in the White Mountains in Inyo County in eastern California. Photo: Felix Lipov - Shutterstock

About forty-five hundred years ago, not long after the completion of the Great Pyramid at Giza, a seed of Pinus longaeva, the Great Basin bristlecone pine, landed on a steep slope in what are now known as the White Mountains, in eastern California. The seed may have travelled there on a gust of wind, its flight aided by a winglike attachment to the nut. Or it could have been planted by a bird known as the Clark’s nutcracker, which likes to hide pine seeds in caches; nutcrackers have phenomenal spatial memory and can recall thousands of such caches. This seed, however, lay undisturbed. On a moist day in fall, or in the wake of melting snows in spring, a seedling appeared above ground—a stubby one-inch stem with a tuft of bright-green shoots. 


What is most astonishing about Pinus longaeva is not the age of any single organism but the collective oldness and otherness of its entire community. No two super-elderly trees look alike, to the point where they have acquired the characteristics of individuals. Trees are prone to anthropomorphism; we project our dreams and our anxieties onto them. Bristlecones have been called elders, sentinels, sages. The possibility that climate change will cause their extinction has inspired a spate of alarmed news stories, although tree scientists tend to discount the idea that the bristlecones are in immediate danger. They have survived any number of catastrophes in the past; they may survive humanity.

The Past and the Future of the Earth’s Oldest Trees by Alex Ross, Annals of Nature, The New Yorker Magazine, Jan 13, 2020

Click here to access the entire article as originally posted on The New Yorker Magazine website.

Articles Linked to on Facebook

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Sat, Jan 18, 2020

Posted by John Hartz on Saturday, 18 January, 2020

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